OCD: Living by the Rules: Numbers: Counting for Safety (Topic#030)

Boy, I really saved the harder/more embarrassing ones for last, didn’t I. Sheesh.

Fun with Numbers! (Part 4 of 4)

Counting for safety

Rainy Night

Rainy Night

Boy oh boy, here’s another tough one to explain! As a child, I had a lot of FEAR. I had a lot of ANXIETY. Without you understanding that, I don’t think the counting for safety can make any sense at all.

Because it was magical thinking at its finest. All to combat my intense, daily fear. I had lots of fear. But as long as I am counting, I’m “safe”. Safe from monsters and unfriendly aliens. I should never have been allowed to watch scary movies as a child. Truly.

So long as I am counting to a pre-determined number, I am safe. The rules explained through an example:

Let’s say I was in bed but had left my beloved stuffed animal dog downstairs by accident. I couldn’t leave my bed for fear of monsters taking over my body and sucking out my brain. I couldn’t be in the hallway. I couldn’t go downstairs. I couldn’t BE downstairs near midnight. I couldn’t be out of my room AT midnight (or the Monster of the Crawlspace would get me …Thanks for that one, Dad! 😉 ).

So I learned to combat it by counting. I had to set a number first. Let’s say, I chose 30. So I had til the count of 30 to get downstairs, find my stuffed dog, and return to bed. I could choose my counting speed at the start, but had to stay at that speed.

The FEAR. I would DIE if I did not count this right. I cannot describe to you the FEAR.

Same for showers. I was afraid to close my eyes in the shower, for fear that tentacles would come up and suck out my brain. So if I had to close my eyes for shampooing, the only way was to count to the preset number at the preset speed.

I missed many times, and was SURE I was going to die at any second. I was SO. SCARED.

I learned a work-around. I said it would be good-luck if I missed by exactly HALF the original number or hit DOUBLE the original number (or TRIPLE, QUADRUPLE, Etc). That helped a lot.

I used counting to get me through any situation where I thought I might die. But I felt safe so long as I was counting.

Now-a-days? I’m not sure if I do this anymore or not. I try not to get to the point of such extreme anxiety that I would need the counting to protect me. Also, I have anxiety medicine as a back-up measure now.


3 thoughts on “OCD: Living by the Rules: Numbers: Counting for Safety (Topic#030)

  1. Wow, your father – probably already realizing you were a fear-ful child, controlled you to stay in your room by using fear. Wow. (what’s the emoticon for shaking my head incredulously?).
    I used to do the counting thing too, but purely as a means of setting a target for myself, not through fear, sometimes utterly arbitrary targets through boredom. I guess for me in later life that has panned out to the ability to schedule work, set realistic deadlines, and adhere to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, I never thought of it that way. My dad is pretty oblivious to that sort of thing, though. He wouldn’t have thought it would affect me so much. It was like a big joke. He had no idea so many things scared me. I never really tried explaining it to anybody until now. He’d feel bad if he knew now how much it had affected me.

      That’s interesting about how you used counting! I love the idea of counting helping to contribute to your productivity later on. 😀 Awesome.


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